In a heated moment for a prime minister known for remaining composed during tense moments, Ardern called libertarian ACT leader David Seymour a “prick” during the Parliament’s Question Time, a period of open debate between political rivals.
“He’s such an arrogant prick,” Arden told Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson after being questioned for seven minutes. The words were barely audible on television, but the language was confirmed by Seymour, according to the Associated Press. It was also loud enough that her desk microphone picked it up in the background.
Ardern’s office said she has since apologized to Seymour for the language and did not dispute that she had used the vulgarity.
“I’m absolutely shocked and astonished at her use of language,” Seymour told the outlet. “It’s very out of character for Jacinda, and I’ve personally known her for 11 years.”
Seymour added that it was ironic she had made the mistake then because he had asked her whether she had ever made a mistake that she had to apologize for, to which she had no reply.
Ardern, who is part of the Labour Party, served her first term as prime minister from 2017 to 2020. She was reelected to a second term in 2020 and has confirmed that she will be running for a third term in 2023. However, polls have shown that Ardern and her party face a tough election next year.